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Latest news on Russia and the war in Ukraine

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Norway arrests a suspected Russian spy

iew of the fishing harbor in Svolvaer, a fishing town in the Lofoten Islands, Nordland County, Norway.

Wolfgang Kaehler | Lightrocket | Getty Images

A suspected Russian spy was arrested in a Norwegian Arctic town this week, adding to fears about Moscow’s activity in the region after a string of recent incidents.

Norway’s domestic security agency said Tuesday it had arrested a man suspected of spying for Russia while posing as an academic from Brazil in the northern town of Tromsoe, about 700 miles north of the capital, Oslo.

The news follows a spate of recent arrests involving drone sightings near critical infrastructure and comes as European countries move to bolster security in the wake of the Nord Stream gas pipeline sabotage. Norway, a NATO member, borders Russia in the Arctic.

The Norwegian public broadcaster NRK first reported that the man who entered the country as a Brazilian citizen was arrested on his way to work at the UiT The Arctic University of Norway, also known as the University of Tromsoe, on Monday, suspected of being a Russian national and working for one of the Russian intelligence services

Read the full NBC News story.

Ukrainian energy company says energy infrastructure damaged by Russian attacks

An electrician works to repair an electricity power line that was damaged from shelling above a former battlefield, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Kharkiv region, Ukraine, October 21, 2022.

Clodagh Kilcoyne | Reuters

Ukrainian energy company Ukrenergo said it was limiting energy consumption in Kyiv, Chernihiv, Cherkasy and Zhytomyr in order to not overload the weakened central system damaged by Russian strikes.

“The consumer restrictions are necessary to reduce the load on the networks and avoid repeated malfunctions after the infrastructure was damaged by the Russian attacks,” the company wrote on its Facebook page, according to an NBC News translation.

“Such measures enable local energy companies to quickly restore damaged facilities and keep the system balanced,” the company added.

— Amanda Macias

Russia says ‘no need’ to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) talks to Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu (R) during the opening ceremony of the International Military Technical Forum ‘Army 2022’, on August 15, 2022, in Kubinka, outside of Moscow, Russia.

Contributor | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Russia has “no need” to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, its defense minister said, describing media speculation that Moscow might deploy nuclear or chemical weapons in the conflict as “absolute lies.”

“From a military point of view, there is no need to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine to achieve the set goals. The main purpose of Russian nuclear weapons is to deter a nuclear attack,” Sergey Shoigu said during a speech at an international security conference in Moscow.

He blamed the media for spreading speculation about whether Russia would use nuclear weapons in its special military operation, “or about the readiness to use chemical weapons. All these informational attacks are absolute lies.”

— Reuters

WNBA star Griner faces difficult conditions at Russian penal colony, former prisoners and advocates say

US’ Women’s National Basketball Association (NBA) basketball player Brittney Griner, who was detained at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport and later charged with illegal possession of cannabis, stands inside a defendants’ cage before a court hearing in Khimki outside Moscow, on August 4, 2022. 

Evgenia Novozhenina | AFP | Getty Images

Brittney Griner will enter a system of isolation, grueling labor and psychological torment when she is transferred to a penal colony, the successor to the infamous Russian gulag, to fulfill a nine-year sentence handed down Tuesday in Moscow, former prisoners and advocates said. 

Human rights violations are a regular feature of many of the camps, according to the U.S. State Department, human rights groups and others who have maintained regular contact with prisoners in Russia. That the WNBA star, who lost her appeal Tuesday, is a gay Black woman could add unknown variables to a penal system that is known to be remote and harrowing. 

“Conditions in prisons and detention centers varied but were often harsh and life-threatening,” a 2021 State Department report on Russian human rights abuses said. “Overcrowding, abuse by guards and inmates, limited access to health care, food shortages, and inadequate sanitation were common in prisons, penal colonies, and other detention facilities.”

The report notes that “physical and sexual abuse by prison guards was systemic,” that torture of prisoners was pervasive — at times resulting in death or suicide — and that discriminatory protections against women and people of color were not often enforced. The law also does not prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Read the full NBC News story.

Kyiv plans to introduce a new schedule of pre-planned blackouts

The Ukrainian capital Kyiv and its surrounding region will introduce a schedule of pre-planned blackouts in the coming days to avoid uncontrolled power outages, after missile and drone strikes from Russia overnight took out 30% of the area’s power generation capacity.

Strikes from missiles and Iranian-made drones, carried out by Russia, have targeted critical energy infrastructure all over Ukraine. This has prompted serious concerns over the country’s ability to maintain access to basic electricity needs like light and heating, especially approaching winter.

Ukrainian authorities are working to restore power in many areas but have asked residents to minimize their power usage to help. In Kyiv, some residents are leaving emergency kits in elevators containing water, snacks, a flashlight and other basic necessities, in case anyone gets stuck in an elevator when the power goes out.

— Natasha Turak

Russian authorities in Ukraine’s occupied regions are ordering phone checks on residents

Cadets attend an event marking the declared annexation of the Russian-controlled territories of four Ukraine’s Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions, after holding what Russian authorities called referendums in the occupied areas of Ukraine that were condemned by Kyiv and governments worldwide, in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, September 30, 2022.

Sergey Pivovarov | Reuters

Russian-instilled authorities in the Ukrainian regions occupied and illegally annexed by Russia announced the rollout of “selective” checks on residents’ mobile phones, as part of the imposition of military censorship under President Vladimir Putin’s recently-declared martial law.

“From today in the Zaporizhzhia region, law enforcement officers have begun a selective preventing check of the mobile phones of citizens,” Vladimir Rogov, an official appointed in the territories by Moscow, said.

Rogov said anyone accessing “propaganda resources of the terrorist Kyiv regime” will first get a warning and then a fine. He also threatened “criminal liability” for “malicious violations of a law on the activities of foreign agent.”

Residents in these areas have already for months reported instances of censorship and phone checks by Russian authorities, with often dangerous consequences for anyone seen to be spreading information from Kyiv or sympathetic to the Ukrainian government.

— Natasha Turak

Ukraine is preparing its troops for a possible attack from Belarus

Maxar satellite imagery of mobile bridging unit in convoy on highwayin Southern Belarus.

Maxar Technologies | Getty Images

Ukraine is preparing its forces for the possibility of an attack from Russian troops in Belarus, an official in Kyiv said, describing how his government is boosting Ukrainian troop numbers in the north of the country, closer to the Belarussian border.

“At the current time the creation of a strike force (in Belarus) is not observable,” Oleksii Hromov, the deputy head of operations of Kyiv’s general staff, said. However, he warned, “there are and will be threats. We are reacting, we have already increased our troops in the northern direction.”

A large number of Russian troops are based in Belarus, which is Russia’s main ally and has allowed Moscow to use its territory as a staging ground for attacks into Ukraine.

— Natasha Turak

Kyiv region faces 30% cut in power generation capacity due to Russian overnight strikes

This photograph shows The Independence Square in Kyiv during a rolling blackout of parts of districts of the Ukrainian capital following rocket attacks last two weeks to critical infrastructures, on October 24, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Sergei Supinsky | AFP | Getty Images

Ukraine’s Kyiv region is facing a 30% reduction in power generation capacity due to overnight Russian missile strikes on its energy infrastructure, the regional governor said.

“Last night the enemy damaged the facilities of the energy infrastructure of our region. A number of critical facilities have been disabled,” Oleksiy Kuleba via Telegram in a video post.

Local officials also said that the area must “prepare for emergency power outages for an indefinite period” because of the attacks, according to a Reuters report.

— Natasha Turak

Australia to join countries providing training to Ukrainian troops in the UK

A soldier holds a Javelin missile system during a military exercise in the training centre of Ukrainian Ground Forces near Rivne, Ukraine May 26, 2021. Picture taken May 26, 2021. 

Gleb Garanich | Reuters

Australia is the latest country to join a coalition of states providing training to Ukrainian forces in the UK, the British Ministry of Defence wrote on its Twitter page.

“Australia will join the list of countries contributing to the British-led programme to train Ukrainian personnel in the UK,” a tweet from the ministry said.

UK Defence Minister Ben Wallace praised the news.

“I am delighted that Australian troops will support the training of Ukrainian personnel in the UK from 2023, joining eight other partner nations,” a statement from Wallace said. “Australia’s Armed Forces are world class and will bring a wealth of expertise to ensure our Ukrainian friends have the knowledge and skills they need to defend the country.”

Other countries involved in the training program include New Zealand, Canada, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway and Lithuania.

— Natasha Turak

Russian strikes hit Kyiv and Zaporizhzhia regions

Municipality workers clean debris at Zestafoni Street in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, on Oct. 25, 2022.

Photo by Metin Aktas | Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Fresh Russian missile strikes hit Ukraine’s Kyiv and Zaporizhzhia regions overnight, local media and officials reported.

“The Russians terrorize the Kyiv region at night. We have several arrivals in one of the communities of the region,” Kyiv regional governor Oleksiy Kuleba wrote on his official Telegram channel.

“Rescuers and all emergency services are on the scene. The elimination of the fire and the consequences of the impact is ongoing.”

Air raid sirens rang out in Kyiv from midnight, and authorities urged residents to seek shelter.

Zaporizhzhia Mayor Anatoly Kurtev also reported that Russian forces attacked the southern city and surrounding land, causing a fire in the area that houses Europe’s largest nuclear power plant.

— Natasha Turak

Estonia calls on UK’s Rishi Sunak to commit to increasing defense spending

Britain’s new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak delivers a speech outside No. 10 Downing Street in London on Oct. 25, 2022.

Hannah Mckay | Reuters

Estonia’s foreign minister called on new British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to commit to increasing defense spending, as the war in Ukraine enters its ninth month.

Sunak’s predecessor Liz Truss, who spent only 44 days in office, pledged to raise defense spending to 3% of the U.K.’s gross domestic product by 2030. Sunak has not agreed to uphold that pledge, and in the past described the spending targets as “arbitrary.”

“Autocrats are investing in weapons. They believe in (the) power of arms. To defend our values – the rules-based order – we need also to invest in the weapons,” Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu said in an interview with the BBC.

Asked if NATO should increase its requirement of 2% of a member country’s GDP spent on its defense to 3%, Reinsalu said “absolutely.” Sunak has not yet responded to the comments.

— Natasha Turak

U.S. commercial satellites could become Russian targets of retaliation if involved in Ukraine war

U.S. commercial satellites and those of U.S. allies could become targets of Russian retaliation if they become involved in the Ukraine war, a senior Russian official warned.

“Quasi-civilian infrastructure may be a legitimate target for a retaliatory strike,” Konstantin Vorontsov, the deputy director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s non-proliferation and arms control department, was quoted by state news agency Tass as saying.

“We are talking about the involvement of components of civilian space infrastructure, including commercial, by the United States and its allies in armed conflicts.”

— Natasha Turak

Ships carrying agricultural products could not leave Ukraine due to a suspicious mine-like object near port

An aerial view of the Turkish-flagged ship “Polarnet” carrying grain from Ukraine is seen at the Derince Port, Kocaeli, Turkiye on August 08, 2022. 

Omer Faruk Cebeci | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

The organization overseeing the export of grain from Ukraine said that no vessels were approved to leave the besieged country due to a “suspicious mine-like object.”

The Joint Coordination Center said that it halted departures from Ukraine until an inspection of the suspicious object was completed. The group said that eight vessels will leave Ukrainian ports Thursday.

Since the inception of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, a deal announced in July among Ukraine, Russia, the United Nations and Turkey, more than 390 vessels have left Ukraine carrying a total of 8.8 million metric tons of grain and other crops.

Read more about the Black Sea Grain Initiative here.

— Amanda Macias

Russian state media claims Kyiv has built a dummy rocket to deploy ‘dirty bomb’

This photograph taken on April 26, 2022 shows the New Safe Confinement at Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant which cover the number 4 reactor unit, on the 36th anniversary of the world’s worst nuclear disaster. 

Sergei Supinsky | AFP | Getty Images

Russian state media claimed that Ukraine has made a dummy rocket to deploy a “dirty bomb” near the Chornobyl nuclear power plant.

The U.S. and its allies have previously denied Russian allegations that Ukraine is planning to use a “dirty bomb” in order to escalate the conflict.

The report in Russia’s RIA Novosti alleges that Ukrainian forces are planning to fill the rocket with radioactive material and blame an explosion on Russian forces.

— Amanda Macias

Read CNBC’s previous live coverage here:



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